If you started your sourdough starter last week, you may be ready to try your hand at something with it. I’ll be posting recipes all week long. These first few will give you a chance to use up some of your ever-growing starter without begging for rise action…success without chance of brick-bread! That’s the kind of baby steps we need around here!
This is a guest post from Sarah Wood, a KS reader. (But I use the same cracker recipe!)
Don’t Throw It Away.
I am relatively new to sourdough baking. But I have learned a few things. And one of those things is that a sourdough starter needs to be fed regularly. And in order to keep it from growing obese and overtaking your whole kitchen, you’ve got to take some starter out of the “active bowl” and “discard” it.
Being a faithful kitchen steward, I would never actually discard perfectly good flour and water (and yeast)!
“Discarded starter” refers to sourdough starter that is not being fed and is therefore losing its oomph. It doesn’t have enough power to rise bread, but those yeasty beasties can still have one more chance to serve a purpose in life. (Katie’s note: a lot of sourdough instructions say to toss out starter and feed a whole cup of flour. Yikes! I just feed it a few Tbs at a time to keep the lactic acid happy. As long as you have bubbles, you’re not starving the thing.)
How It Began:
The whole reason I even got into sourdough baking is because I became acquainted with Nourishing Traditions which revolutionized my whole food paradigm. So I couldn’t be satisfied to simply “use up” my extra starter in pancakes or pizza crusts with white flour. I wanted to find recipes in which I could use whole grain flours and soak the flour.
This week I’ll share some recipes I’ve adapted that use discarded or inactive starter and allow you to properly prepare whole grain flours. Sourdough fermentation will help you make some wholesome, nutrient-dense food. (Note from Katie: fermenting sourdough is even better than regular “soaking,” and even “inactive” starter will break down a great deal of the phytates and neutralize the phytic acid. See this post on the health benefits of sourdough for more.)
How I Do It:
I only maintain one starter which is fed unbleached white flour. That is what I have used in all of the recipes for this week, but I think starters fed on other sorts of flour will work just fine too. I also soaked most of these recipes up to 24 hours before I learned that seven hours is sufficient for whole wheat, so don’t worry if you leave it for longer!
- 1 c. “discarded” sourdough starter
- 1/4 c. room temperature lard from pastured pork (or coconut oil or softened butter)
- 1 c. whole wheat or spelt flour, or as much as you need to make a stiff dough
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- Olive oil for brushing
- Coarse salt (such as kosher salt) for sprinkling on top
- Large mixing bowl
- Plastic Wrap
- Baking sheet and a Silpat type non-stick baking mat OR a baking stone such as Katie used for her cracker recipe OR parchment paper
- Rolling Pin (or a glass jar, see comments for successful tip!)
- Pastry Brush (optional)
- Pizza Cutter
- In a large bowl, combine the sourdough and the lard and mix thoroughly.
- Mix the salt in with 1/4 cup flour and add to the sourdough mixture. Knead it all together in the bowl, adding as much flour as necessary to make a stiff dough.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap or put a lid on the bowl to prevent it from drying out.
- Leave the dough at room temperature for at least seven hours.
- Seven or more hours later, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit .
- Take a small portion of the dough (about 1/4 cup) and roll it out on a Silpat or other nonstick baking mat using a rolling pin, until it is very thin.
- Pour a little bit of olive oil on the rolled out dough and spread it to the edges of the dough with a pastry brush or your hand.
- Sprinkle liberally with coarse salt. (I tried these with fine sea salt and it really wasn’t as good as the kosher salt!)
- Cut the dough vertically and horizontally into quadrangles with a pizza cutter.
- Transfer the Silpat onto your baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until just golden brown. Repeat in batches.
- The crackers shrink a little bit in the oven, so when you pull out your baking sheet, they will already be separated and you don’t have to try and transfer the delicate dough from one surface to another.
- UPDATE: For extra crispy crackers, If you have space and baking stones to suffice, simply turn the oven off with the crackers still inside. They’ll crisp up just lovely as it cools down. NOTE: Do not use this method with an electric oven, as it will still create heat even once turned off. You’d have to let quite a bit of heat out by leaving the door open for a few minutes, then check the crackers every 10 minutes or so until they’re crispy but not burnt.
* These crackers are absolutely delightful! I suspect it is the lard that makes them so nice. Crisp yet tender.
* I must confess I haven’t tried the recipe with coconut oil or butter, but if you don’t have access to lard from pastured pork, those are good alternatives.
* This dough freezes well and you can easily defrost one or two batches at a time so that you can have fresh crackers every day! I made a double batch of dough and let it “soak.” Then I divided it into eight equal portions which I shaped into balls and then froze. It takes 1-2 hours for the dough to defrost. Then place it on your Silpat or baking stone and continue with the recipe.
* Add some fun flavors by using a Tbs. or two of tomato paste and fresh or dried basil in the dough (the triangle shapes in the photos are a tomato-basil recipe). What other herbs would you want to try?
Katie here: I make the same crackers from Sarah’s recipe, and they are excellent! I have used both coconut oil and butter and lard and palm shortening with great success. I roll and cut the dough directly onto my baking stone and that works great. I used to think they might be too sour, but then my babysitter and her friend ate half the batch once. If they appeal to pre-teens, anyone might love them!
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